Immigration lawyer questions plans to admit more caregivers while backlog lengthens

A Toronto immigration lawyer is scratching his head over a federal government announcement about plans to admit a record-high number of live-in caregivers next year while existing processing delays are already clogging up the system.

The current backlog means years of waiting for caregivers gunning for jobs in Canada and the families who need them, says Michael Niren of Visa Place.

Canada will admit 17,500 permanent residents through the live-in caregiver program in 2014, the government announced. That’s an all-time high since the program began in 1993.

In the same announcement, the government acknowledged that delays in the program had reached “unacceptable” levels.

“I’m not understanding the logic behind what the government is doing,” Niren says. “If the concern is backlog, why open the floodgates so that more applicants are going to be applying?

“Are they going to add more resources to embassies to process these cases? It remains to be seen.”

Previously, when applications clogged up the parental sponsorship program, the government shut it down and replaced it with a 10-year super visa for parents and grandparents. Although it was “painful,” the strategy had logic to it, says Niren.

Niren adds there’s no denying the great need for live-in caregivers in Canada, especially in major cities. But he says a lot of his clients are frustrated over having to wait years before caregivers arrive.

“Nannies are needed. There’s no doubt about it,” he says, adding he’s all for increasing the number of caregivers coming to Canada.

“I’m just afraid that it will cause greater backlog and [longer] processing times.”

In a press release, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said the government acknowledges the backlog issue but didn’t say how it plans to reduce it.

“Wait times in the live-in caregiver program have grown to levels that are unacceptable to caregivers,” he said. “Our government has already slashed application backlogs for skilled workers and parents and grandparents. Now, we turn our attention to the [live-in caregiver program].”

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